Number 10 seed Petra Kvitova stared defeat in the eyes before beating Danka Kovinic 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 at Roland Garros on Sunday.
Kvitova started the match with her first serve firing and that, coupled with two breaks, allowed her to claim the first set 6-2 in relatively straight forward fashion.
However, Kvitova lost all her rhythm in the second set and Kovinic was ruthless in taking advantage as she leveled matters by clinching the stanza 6-4.
In a tense third-set at 4-5 down Kvitova was two points away from being knocked-out of the tournament. Had she lost it would have been two early exits in the year's first two grand slams after a second round defeat at the Australian Open.
However, she showed great character and fought valiantly to win the deciding set 7-5 and with it take the match.
"I started pretty well, and I think that the conditions weren't really easy today," Kvitova said after the match.
"I think that in the second set when I was serving to make it 4-1, I missed four easy backhands and I felt like that was kind of the turning point and I was kind of down mentally after this game.
"I think she just came back and tried to play more aggressive. I was I think running too far behind the baseline. I was just trying to put the ball in, but it's not really my game.
"It was a very difficult match today. But in the end, I think that the end of the match was kind of sorry from my side. It was a big fight again. I'm happy that I won it."
The Czech star now faces Su-Wei Hsieh in the second round after the latter overcame Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino in straight sets.
Elsewhere, there were wins for Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Viktorija Golubic and Lucie Safarova over Sara Sorribes Tormo, Alison Riske and Vitalia Diatchenko respectively.
Heather Watson and Nicole Gibbs are all square at one set a piece in their match which will restart at 19:00 (HKT) on Monday.
Svetlana Kuznetsova has a break in the decider against Yaroslava Shvedova while Cagla Buyukakcay trails Irina Begu 1-2 in the third stanza of their meeting.
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